3 chosen as UAB VIPs

Written by  Brooke Carbo

Amy Allon, Corey Agricola and Jessica Gunnin are the three honorees of the UAB Shared Values in Action Program for this quarter. The UAB VIP Award honors employees whose work exemplifies and embodies one or more of values of integrity, respect, diversity and inclusiveness, collaboration, excellence and achievement, accountability and stewardship.

Three employees, nominated by their colleagues and selected by a committee of individuals from across the campus and hospital, will be honored each quarter. One of the 12 VIP Award honorees in 2021 will be selected for the new President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values beginning in 2022.

Meet those honored for the third quarter of 2021:


Amy Allon 350 1Amy J. Allon, medical caseworker, School of Nursing PATH ClinicAmy J. Allon
Medical caseworker, PATH Clinic

Amy Allon, medical caseworker for the Providing Access to Healthcare (PATH) Clinic, strives to ensure her patients have access to care they need.  Allon embodies UAB’s shared values and does whatever she can, even advocating new initiatives in the PATH Clinic, to make sure patient’s needs are met.

“Breaking down barriers to ensure our diverse and vulnerable patients have what they need is one of her strengths,” one nominator said.

PATH Clinic Program Manager Sarah Cole stated, “Amy is a person of true character. She has a genuine desire to see our patients become the most successful they can be by working to solve social barriers like food, housing and transportation. Amy gives 100 percent of herself to each and every patient and treats them with the utmost respect and dignity.”

When the first COVID-19 study was announced Allon quickly volunteered to participate. Allon received monetary benefits for her participation, but felt guilty for accepting money because joining the study was simply “the right thing to do” in her opinion. “Ms. Allon uses her own participant money to purchase bus passes for patients at the PATH Clinic who are in need of transportation,” said Associate Professor Michele Talley, Ph.D. “Her altruistic nature for participation in the study and the donation of the money for vulnerable patient needs is a true testament of her heart for diversity and inclusion. Simply put, Ms. Allon is a good person with a big, generous heart and love for people.” 

“Her heart for the work she does is so evident by the way she tackles the needs of our patients, seeks out to build our community partners and her willingness to do whatever task necessary to ensure that the clinic runs as best as possible,” Cole said.


Agricola 350 1Corey Agricola chaplain, Pastoral CareCorey Agricola
Chaplain, Pastoral Care

Corey Agricola has been in the ministry for more than 20 years, seven of those at UAB Hospital.  In that time, he has made it his mission to support and care for everyone who crosses his path whether they share the same beliefs or not.

“I would say that Corey knows how to be present with a patient and travel those hard roads with his patients while they make those decisions of their faith,” one nominator said. “Corey doesn’t wear a cross in the hospital or anything that could drive a wedge between him and a patient that doesn’t believe like he does.”

One particularly notable example of Agricola’s dedication to his ministry and the people he cares for every day occurred in September 2019. A patient in palliative care approaching his final days decided he wanted to be baptized and fully submerged in water according to his belief. The patient was wheelchair-bound and required constant oxygen making a submerged baptism very complicated.  Agricola coordinated with the patient’s medical team, found an available pool at Spain Rehabilitation Center and performed the baptism for his patient mere days before his passing.

“You moved everything around — all of the departments worked together to make it happen,” said one of the patient’s family members present at the baptism.

Jessica Gunnin 350 1Jessica Gunnin, personnel generalist, MicrobiologyJessica Gunnin
Personnel generalist, Microbiology

Jessica Gunnin is listed in the directory as personnel generalist for the microbiology department, but in truth she works with many departments in the School of Medicine through a collaboration of HR shared services.

“I invited her to partner with me on a collaboration with Department of Dermatology because I quickly recognized that neither the department nor the newly implemented SOM HR Shared Services had the expertise to handle the complex nature of international hires required to support their No. 1 NIH-ranked program,” said Kristina Sinclair, administrative director for Joint Health Sciences.  “She agreed to participate, in true Jessica form, even though the collaboration increased her workload tremendously.” 

Many of her colleagues are impressed by her willingness to collaborate with multiple departments and note her warm and cheerful attitude.  “I can always count on Jessica to help me through things that I do not deal with daily and with a smile on her face,” said one of Gunnin’s many nominators.

Gunnin supports hundreds of people ranging from undergraduate students to full time professors, many of whom are new to UAB and the United States. Gunnin strives to make their transition as smooth as possible. “Jessica is often the first person at UAB who new hires come in contact with, and she makes everyone feel equally welcome,” said Carlos Orihuela, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of Faculty Development in the Department of Microbiology. “Her across-the-board respect for individuals, from staff to faculty, knowledge on the steps and regulations related to becoming part of the UAB system, and can-do attitude ensure that the process goes smoothly.”

The third quarter honorees were recognized during a presentation this past month featuring remarks by Paulette Dilworth, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, outgoing Chief Human Resource Officer Alesia Jones and incoming CHRO Janet May. Each honoree received a letter from UAB President Ray Watts, a UAB VIP Award recognition plaque and gifts.

Nominations for fourth quarter honorees are open through Dec. 8. Submit a nomination online.